Worldspace Radio back with 12 channels on Airtel Digital

It was months ago that Airtel Digital’s music (radio) service was suspended pending ‘upgradation’, and going by the news today, the wait was well worth it.

Airtel Digital, one of India’s largest DTH services, said it is launching Worldspace Radio at Rs 35 per month.

Worldspace was a familiar brand in India till about four years ago, when it went bankrupt. The company used to broadcast through high-power satellites and users could listen to several channels of dedicated music by using a receiver set that cost a few thousands rupees (several hundred dollars).

It is said that the company had hundreds of thousands of subscribers – with more than 90% coming from India. The company’s assets were recently acquired by Timbre Media, a Bangalore-based start-up, with eye on reusing the WorldSpace brand. It was initially expected that it planned to relaunch the service on mobile phones, using data streaming technology.

As such, Airtel Digital’s announcement that it is launching 12 Worldspace channels has surprised many.

The new channels include Magikbox – Kids, Shraddha – Devotional, Farishta- Retro Hindi, Falak- Ghazals, Sonar- Bengali, Umang- Gujarati, Surabhi- Marathi, Tunak- Punjabi, Thenisai- Tamil, Madhuri- Malayalam, Sparsha- Kannada and Spandana- Telugu.

“DTH customers can now listen to an extensive collection of latest and retro Hindi songs, popular ghazals and their favorite regional music channels on the new avatar radio,” Airtel said.

“Customers can now enjoy 24X7 radio on their TV in their native dialect be it Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada or Telugu. Comprising of 12 channels including devotional and kids channels.”

Saregama and Timbre Media will jointly provide the content for the application.

Customers can access the application using the iTV button on their remote.

Airtel digital TV has over 7.4 million customers.

The original Worlspace Radio’s headquarters were located in Silver Spring, MD. Before filing for bankruptcy in October 2008, 1worldspace employed two satellites and broadcast 62 channels – 38 of which were content provided by international, national and regional third parties and 24 Worldspace-branded stations produced by or for Worldspace. Most of the channels used to be available only through a subscription plan.